It is Theoretical Monday here at Scission. With the situation heating up in the Ukraine, and unending, often uninformed debate tearing apart the left, I am going boldly...somewhere else entirely.
Today's piece dives into the brain, into the question of how human's make history, into the too often misused world of science, neurocapitalism, and with a little Karl Marx thrown in for good measure.
I ran across this rather tasty morsel in an odd way. Here is the short history lesson. After I got out of prison in the 70s, the government believed I needed a better life plan than the one I was operating on (I had told them I was going back into the printshop). I guess they had something against offset presses or something. So, I tried to find something that would satisfy them in the shortest amount of time and with the least pain possible. Thus, it was back to school I went for a couple of years. I ended up with a Counseling degree, mostly because I could work a real job, get a student loan, and finish off the thing in two short years. I can't say I have ever used the thing since. In the midst of it all, I once wrote this lengthy paper on Soviet Psychology (of course, I did). Well, a couple of weeks ago I ran across on ye olde Web this women by the name of Hannah Proctor who has delved into that topic much, much deeper then I ever considered. Turns out she is a rather interesting woman. Her twitter account is worth checking out. Lots of fascinating stuff there, some of it much less academic then elsewhere. The New Inquiry describers her like this:
Hannah Proctor writes about revolutionary psychologies, neuronal ideologies and communist brains. She is working on a PhD on Soviet psychology and neurology at Birkbeck College, University of London.
At Academia.edu her research interests are listed as Marxism, History Of Psychology, Feminism, Russian History, Soviet History, Critical Theory,
From the New Socialist Person to Global Mental Health: the Psy-ences and Mental Health in East Central Europe and Eurasia), Dr. Proctor gave a scheduled presentation typical, I think, of the subject matters that seem to interest her most and which relates to the article I am posting below.
The Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies at the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (CERES) described it this way:
If none of this interests you in the least, you might still read the following from MUTE. There might be something there worth checking out. You never know. If nothing else it might help in the fight to keep your brain active...Again, you never know...
Hannah Proctor’s presentation reflected on history as a tool to critique the present. Coming from a perspective of “critical neuroscience” she stressed that history provides the means to denaturalize the current moment and thereby enable imaginations of alternative futures; a project she deemed particularly pertinent in the face of a contemporary neuroscience that produces a conception of the human consciousness that is largely ahistorical and depoliticized. In contrast with this conception, she drew on the work of Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist of the 1920s and ‘30s, whose work, she argued, could provide an alternative paradigm as it situates human consciousness as emerging in a social and historical context. Vygotsky’s original aim to bridge the dynamics between materialism and idealism, between object and subject through a “dialectical psychology” provided Proctor with an angle from which to question the contemporary object-centered neuroscience, and what she perceived as an equally apolitical social science (i.e. actor-network theory) that erases the distinction between object and subject. Instead, Proctor insisted on the importance of maintaining a political subject that has the capacity to resist domination and articulate radical critique, which to her also meant insisting that the world can still “consciously be altered”.
Oh, I should mention the co-author. Michael Runyan recently completed an MA at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London. He lives in Berlin...and that's alls I knows about him.
CHANGING OUR MINDS: A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE BRAIN
Image: From the Connectome project, grounded in recent developments in MRI technology which allow for non-invasive
from the network